If you like sub-optimal goaltending and marginal defensive play on both sides, then tonight was your lucky night. As stated in the preview, this game was not intended to be viewed by anyone whose hockey sensibilities are easily offended.
The Blackhawks and Jets didn’t let us down. But hey, it actually ended up being pretty entertaining in a sadistic type of way and the Hawks desperately took two points that were for the taking. Albeit, they did it in the most roundabout way but there are no style points this time of year.
–The Hawks snapped an insanely long power play drought tonight by adding a slight new wrinkle to their formation. Kane and Panarin both stood below the goal line exchanging passes. What this does is A) allows a clean passing lane for the Hawks to shift the side the puck is on B) gets the two opposing defensemen to turn their back to the slot allowing the three other Hawks to find open space and C) gives Kane or Panarin an easy lane to step out when they feel there’s an opening.
Not surprisingly against a team of Winnipeg’s ilk, it worked. The passing below the goal line opened up space around the slot which allowed Panarin to slide into once Kane made his move.
Granted, it took Kane’s pass being deflected and Pavelec completely biffing his T-push to the far post, but the end result was the same.
The Hawks tried doing it again on their final power play and while they didn’t score, it led to a quick barrage of shots and once again a back-door play which Panarin biffed. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of lanes open when Duncan Keith is back. But there are five more games before we get to find out.
–Andrew Shaw left early in the second period because of a lower body injury which looked like his knee or ankle got twisted in a weird spot down in the corner as he was battling for positioning. Shaw stayed on the ice, tried to make a couple pushes and then gingerly headed to the bench.
Shortly after, TVR was destroyed in the corner and he left to be examined in THE ROOM. Then, for good measure, Niklas Hjalmarsson hit Jonathan Toews with a puck in the ear and he had to leave to get stitched up. FUN.
This left the Hawks rotating ten forwards and five defensemen with one of the forwards being Mashinter.
Amazingly, the Hawks got out of the second period with the lead.
–The last time the Hawks went into Winnipeg, they were able to put them away rather quickly and not give the Jets any reason to care. This time, they weren’t so lucky. LOCAL GUY Scott Darling let in a quick one off a scramble and the Jets had every reason to believe they could win this one. Even when Pavelec was busy coughing up the lead on the other end, the fact that the Hawks were undermanned without Keith and Darling’s yips gave Winnipeg enough reason to keep battling.
And that they did.
–I think somebody got behind Teflon Van Riemsdyk again.
–Michal Rozsival had an excellent shift towards the end of the third period where he broke up a 2-on-1 and then dove face first to prevent a shot from the slot. He takes his abuse but as a sixth defensemen, you really can’t ask for more than he’s given the Hawks this season.
–Even when Winnipeg went up 4-3 in the third, there was enough time to expect a push back from the Hawks and with Winnipeg’s defense, they would have plenty of good opportunities.
Marcus Kruger capped off his excellent shift with a really nice pass to Panarin who was cruising down the middle. You can expect to see Kruger between Kane and Panarin for brief stretches again.
–Paul Maurice used his coach’s challenge on Brandon Mashinter’s goal. The only replay that was shown on the telecast and on the tablet the officials used to determine if interference occurred was an overhead camera approximately 120 feet away. Despite watching an angle that offered zero depth perception, somehow Ed Olcyzk was able to precisely determine where contact occurred and said the goal should be overturned.
However, there was no credible evidence where you could see Mashinter visibly make contact with Pavelec until the puck was passed him and his stick pushes his blocker.
The review of goalie interference is this generation’s in the crease rule. It’s all fun and games until a Stanley Cup is handed out despite an infraction occurring.
–All things considered, this was a pretty gutsy win for the Hawks. They had every reason to pack it in and go home with a .500 road trip. Yes, it was the Jets and yes, Pavelec is bad. But they had teammates dropping like flies, LOCAL GUY Scott Darling was less than good and the Jets top line was firing on all cylinders. A 3-1 road trip is a 3-1 road trip, especially for a team battling it like the Hawks have been.
Even better was that the Blues lost, bringing the Hawks within four points of them. They also are two points away from clinching, at worst, 3rd place in the Central. A Sunday matinee against Boston will be important for both teams. Let’s just hope it goes better than the last time these two played on a Sunday morning.